The God Slide

Column by tzo.

Exclusive to STR

Religion is always a fun topic to address, since no one ever really gets fired up about it . . . .

While Voluntaryists acknowledge that government is aggressive, unethical, and is often likened to religion in that it is based on superstitious beliefs, it is commonly held that religion is only dangerous when coupled with government force. If people want to believe in and participate in religion without introducing coercive government into the equation, then it’s harmless. Live and let live.

However, I would contend that the believer is psychologically harming himself. Believing in things that don’t exist in reality is by definition delusional, and there are consequences to this self-damaging behavior that can manifest themselves in society, and some of these consequences can prove hazardous to many people.

Now how does one generally acquire religious beliefs? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they are transferred from parent to child, a download that the youngster has no real defense against.

Is that aggression? Abuse? Not exactly. Is the subsequent adult that received such indoctrination as a child able to critically think his way through and unwind all the logical contradictions and overcome the emotional attachments involved? Very many can't.

So if an individual is being psychologically harmed by ideas he willingly holds in his mind, but those ideas would not be there except for the fact that someone else put them there when he was young and impressionable, then who is harming whom? Is the person harming himself or has harm come to him through the actions of others? The answer is “yes” to both.

But again, the harm is relatively harmless. Right?

Well, it is vitally important for human beings to have an accurate understanding of the world around them: Don't walk off cliffs and don't poke sleeping tigers with sticks. We are built to discover logical explanations that correspond with reality, and this is key to human survival.

So now consider the Big Questions: How did I get here? Why am I here? What happens after I die? Where did all this come from? Since the human mind has a natural aversion to "I don’t know," it wants to fill in the holes, and even a bad answer is better than no answer (Of course, no answer is an answer as well, if one can see it and accept it as such.).

It turns out that these Big Questions can have fantastical, illogical answers without having any obvious immediate consequences, and so haphazard answers can get plugged in and the thirst for knowledge can be quenched. And that’s good enough because after all, there usually are more pressing needs to attend to.

So once again, what's the big deal?

Well, positing the existence of a god all on its own is ultimately an unsatisfying answer. It merely pushes the line of questions back to the god’s motivations. If it created everything, it must have a plan. What is it? Musings turn into suppositions turn into beliefs turn into written scripture that gets compiled into complicated tomes that only certain experts can interpret. These experts become the supernatural conduit through which the god can express his will. Now you have a religion—a collection of irrational beliefs, myths, and rules that are handed down by an imagined divine power to select human “divine authorities” here on Earth.

And it turns out the answers these “authorities” provide for the Big Questions are anything but haphazard, but rather purposeful concoctions meant to take advantage of anyone gullible enough to be taken in. A control structure based on deception and irrationality is created, and that’s a problem.

Having irrational beliefs means that one doesn't trust oneself to accurately decipher reality. There are invisible forces that are to be believed in, and the only reason they are believed in is that they have been accepted from a perceived authority who told them it was so (looking primarily at you, Moms and Dads).

Now consider the self-esteem of a person who cannot trust his own senses but must rely on external authority to explain to him the mysterious world in which he is immersed because it is beyond his capability to understand on his own. Consider that the young mind taught religion is being trained to see himself as being incompetent to understand the world around him through his own rational and logical examinations.

“God made the world. God made me. God will watch over me. God has a plan. All my success is due to God. I am a servant to his will. I will try to understand what he wishes me to do and I will try to live that out. I will find others who believe as I do, and we will help each other along. We will share the true answers to the great secrets. We will build a community of believers. We will select our leaders among men . . . .”

How long before, “God hath decreed that this land be rightfully ours, cast out the infidels!”? Sounds a little extreme, but if that’s what the little feller with the funny hat and robes says . . . .

Can a group of people with these attributes be counted on to understand and support the idea that all men are created equal and have equal rights? How can they, when they automatically categorize themselves as lesser humans who must defer to a class of superior humans on whom they depend to explain reality to them and to dispense justice for them?

They are rule-followers, and their scripture comes down from on high and is passed along to them via the super-humans who are the natural conduits to this higher power. And if they feel they should be subject to that higher power as well as the small group of humans who represent that power here on Earth, then you better believe that they are going to want to drag you down to their level and make sure you don't go around trying to live as a sovereign individual. Blasphemy! Allow us to correct the error of your ways. You'll thank us later, in the afterlife.

So no, religion without state power behind it is not necessarily harmful per se. Irrational belief systems are not harmful per se. But when you get a population of irrational believers, the end result—consciously pursued or not—will be to create a State, which is merely an expression of an external authority on Earth that is to be obeyed.

There will always be those who can sniff out the weak and provide them with “protection” for a price. Where there is demand, supply will eventually be found. When enough of these dependents are gathered together, they become a big club that can be wielded against those who choose not to believe in Santa. The end result is that we all end up having to dress up as elves and pretend to go to work in Santa’s workshop. Humiliating.

The God Slide is just one type of the various “external authority” slides that exist and like all the rest, it is extremely slippery and there is always a collection of folks at the bottom ready to catch you. They are the government, and they are there to help.

So while there is no overt aggression going on in the intergenerational transfer of irrational beliefs, rationality needs to put up a fight against irrationality. The non-coercive weapons to be used are persuasion and peer pressure, which can be extremely effective. These are, in fact, the very same tools used by all religions and governments who wish to bend human beings to conform to their irrational propositions.

Turning the tables and pressuring people to conform to rationality and to reject irrationality in all of its forms is the remedy to this anti-intellectual mindset. And more importantly, it is vital to persuade people to stop passing off superstition as fact to the next generation while they are young, vulnerable, and impressionable, thereby undermining their rational faculty.

Widespread irrational beliefs can have serious consequences in society. There once was a widespread irrational belief that some animals that look just like men weren’t really men because their skin contained high levels of melanin, and this brilliant non-thinking coincided with slavery and institutionalized racism. Now that people are generally not taught such irrational lessons, the peculiar institution has subsided. Coincidence?

As it stands now, more than 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God and at least 9.999 out of 10 Americans believe in government. Coincidence?


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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.


DP_Thinker's picture

Hello Tzo,
I thought I would comment on your article as I am one of the few individuals who believes in God, and doesn’t believe in Government.
First of all, I think it’s good we get a little clarity and precision on some definitions. What can we call God? Some might say simply that he is the creator of the universe; others might have a different view. I think the former is perfectly compatible with rationality.
Second, I agree with you that religion can be a disaster, and has and will continue to cause aggressiona and war. However, I am not religious but I believe in God as a Christian. There is a difference. One can believe in God but not be religious.
Third, if you follow Newton’s first law of thermodynamics, it states simply that nothing exists that hasn’t been created. Nothing comes about by magically appearing, or a “big bang” if you will. So a “creator” is necessary to have made us. That is the scientific logic behind having faith. I know one will say, "then who made God?". The best answer I have found is "The Bible indicates that God is an eternal, transcendent Spirit. Consequently, because time is itself a physical property of the universe which God created, then questions about God's origin are meaningless. This is because God existed before time and He is, therefore, not subject to time-bound concepts such as birth and death. He is outside of time" - Again, this is based on faith.
Lastly, you have to separate and define the words, “believe”, “faith”, and “knowing”. If I say I believe something, I am going by faith that it exists, or will happen in the future, or I have optimism about something. That is all based on faith. Now, most “religious” people get it wrong and say they KNOW that God exists. No we do not, otherwise faith is not needed. Otherwise you don’t believe it, you know it. This “knowing” that the religious have is what can be a huge stumbling block in their relationship to society and cause conflict. They think that since they KNOW God exists (which it’s impossible to know) they have a right to set up theocracies, start wars, etc.. In fact, most religious people continually misconstrue the meanings of religious writings for their own agendas at the detriment of others.

One should not act on others from the standpoint of a belief. This is why they call for government because they think they KNOW that they are right. But how can you know a belief is right? You can't. This is key, and I think a huge problem.
And from a philosophical standpoint, it is actually ignorant for an atheist to say that they KNOW there is not a God. Because they do not know, they too have absolutely no proof, hence they only BELIEVE it. They believe in evolution just as one believes in God. So we have two viewpoints.

  1. I believe God exists (has faith) – the religious person
  2. I believe God does not exist – the atheist

But neither has proof, and faith in something unknown is what allows people to live their lives. If one has no faith that their life will go anywhere, that they can do their job etc… They aren’t living. Life thrives on faith, and that faith can be placed in many different areas. But it should not cause one to act against others.

I also agree that many are taught wrong from birth, as was I. I am the black sheep in the family for my anti-government viewpoints, but I "know" they are right!




Jim Davies's picture

DP, are you sure Newton formulated the First Law of Thermodynamics? Wiki doesn't name him.  That Law does hold that the total energy in a closed system is constant, but it's a bit hard to argue that the Universe is a closed system. Perhaps you were thinking of the "First Cause" argument (and I can't recall who first posited that, but fancy he was Greek) - namely that every event is preceded by a cause, hence the arrival of the Universe was preceded or caused by a creator. Sounds neat, until we realize that the end result ("God") didn't have a cause and therefore that the conclusion contradicts the premise. Oops.
Then, I'm a bit confused by your differentiation of faith and religion. I'd have said they were pretty well the same; religion is about believing something that cannot be proven, yes? (Someone told me once that faith is about believing something that wasn't true, but he was overstating it a bit.) You're quite right, most serious religious people swear that they "know" God exists, or even that they "know God", whereas they have fallen foul of an epistemological falsehood. How do we humans "know" anything? What these earnest folk really mean is that they feel it so, or that they have experienced so many apparent coincidences in life that they see the hand of God at work. That isn't knowledge, at all.
Knowledge is what comes from observation and reason. Since "god" cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled, observation is impossible. Since reason must begin with a premise and since the Bible (for one) begins with the unsupported premise that God the creator exists, reason is also off the table. Further, as George H Smith has perceptively noted, nobody (to his or my knowledge) has even defined the meaning of the term "god", there is no basis at all for arguing about whether or not he/she/it exists. You valiantly begin to try to define it with "God is an eternal, transcendent Spirit" but really, that simply will not do. It uses three vague and inexplicable terms to define a fourth.
Faced with those abysmal deficiencies in observation and reason I confidently assert that, with due respect to your contrary view, I do as an atheist "know" that god does not exist - in the same sense and degree that I know that Unies (more thanks to George) do not exist: no Unie has never been defined,  seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled.

DP_Thinker's picture


I’ll try to respond to all of your questions/arguments here. Note that I am not trying to give anyone proof or argue that God exists. Nor am I trying to give anyone proof evolution is what caused the world to begin. In fact, neither has been seen (unless you believe certain written works like the Bible), heard, smelled, tasted, or touched. Each has only been deduced via others logic or from inferences that exist today with those hypotheses.

Democritus was the first one to quote that “Nothing comes from nothing”.  (5th century BC) He was an atomist, believing that everything exists that will exist and things only change forms.

Newton is not attributed to naming them as such (laws of thermodynamics), but is attributed with his laws of motion, 4 philosophical points in his principia, and other writings to be the first to discover the rules of thermodynamics. However, his first law of motion, and the first law of thermodynamics does state that "matter cannot be created or destroyed" as it's logical consequence, and is usually referred to "The law of conservation of matter". In other words, no one is fully attributed to the law, but he was the first one to understand it, and modern physics names it differently. The point still stands that the law of conservation of matter that nothing exists that wasn’t created. Matter cannot be created or destroyed.

Here are a few references (more available upon request):

“The fact that matter can neither be created or destroyed, according to the First Law of Thermodynamics, raises questions about where all of the matter in the universe came from.” The overwhelming experience of experimental physics confirms this First Law to be a fact.

In 1877, Peter Guthrie Tait claimed that the principle originated with Sir Isaac Newton, based on a creative reading of propositions 40 and 41 of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.  -

The Law of conservation of Matter is typically referred to when talking about the conclusions from Newton’s first law, though it is only the first law of thermodynamics applied.

I define faith in believing in something that is unseen. I look at religion as the organized process of advancing your beliefs (ones you have faith in) in the world, rituals, groups acting on the same faith, etc… I can say I have faith that there exists a God, but not be religious at all. I am not a muslim, or a Lutheran, or a catholic. But I believe in God. If I were religious I might attend one of those churches every week and when I am referring to what I believe I would say I am one of those religions. Though I am not, but I believe that God exists.

As to knowledge, you are missing my point. You might see apples, but does that mean apples caused something? No. You might see evolutionary processes, but does that mean evolutionary processes caused the earth to exist? No. In fact, some theorize God used evolutionary processes to create the universe. There are those that know, and those that believe. If I believe something but don't know it, I take it on faith. If I carry out that faith in an organized manner with other similar individuals, that is called a religion.

As to my definition of God, to be fair what you said I defined God as was a quote. If you look at an earlier paragraph I said one could simply define God as the creator of the universe. The definition of God was not what I was pointing out in that quote but the description of him in light of the fact that he created time if you will. Do you know or can you comprehend what happens when you get to the end of the universe? Is there an end? How do you know? There are things we don’t know or haven't perceived yet, and we might not ever know, but that doesn’t prove or disprove a belief. Only that which we do know for sure can disprove a belief.



Jim Davies's picture

DP, there's a lot of confusion here. If you prefer, let's take this offline - send me a PM if you wish. Briefly,
1. What do you mean by "evolution is what caused the world to begin."? And what persuades you that it began, at all?
2. Thanks for ID-ing Democritus, but did you grasp the importance of the contradiction I named?
3. Your para about Newton makes no sense to me. Again, he was not the author of the laws of thermodynamics, nor those of the conservation of mass (that was Lavoisier.)  And how do you square "Matter cannot be created or destroyed" with Einstein's most famous equation? (Come to think of it, how do you square it with "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"?)
4. That "All About Science" reference appears to have been written for a kindergarten.
5. "Newton's First Law" is a phrase normally referring to his laws of motion (Google it, to confirm.) The first of them states "First law: If an object experiences no net force, then its velocity is constant." You appear (though I hope not) to be confusing this with the laws of conservation of matter and of energy.
6. "I believe that God exists." Well, yes, I gathered that. Do you believe Unies exist? Why, or why not?
7. "one could simply define God as the creator of the universe." Really? Try this: "X is defined as that which created the universe." What does that tell you, or anyone, about X? And what leads you to suppose that the universe was created? For that matter, how do you define the "universe"?
8. Your final para does pose some good questions, and I agree there are several things we just do not know, including whether the universe has an end, or an edge. But why would you then want to believe something about those things, just as if they were in some sense known? Example: nobody knows if it has an edge, so someone might stand and say "I believe it does." Why? Why not toss a coin?
The human race has come a very long way in the last few centuries by taking a different intellectual approach, called the scientific method. This considers an unknown and theorizes a possible solution or answer, then tests it by experiment and observation. The theory is modified in the light of the results and the process repeats, so taking us ever closer to true truth. "Belief" is superfluous. It's an arrogant subsitute for the proper humility that admits that at present, some things are simply not known.

DP_Thinker's picture

I’ll answer here Jim, and let the readers hear from both sides.
Evolution is a common stance among those that don’t believe in God. The universe either existed, or it was created. No other option exists. If it existed, I would like to know how one can comprehend that something has always existed (what’s the cause?), and has no beginning.

“Sounds neat, until we realize that the end result ("God") didn't have a cause and therefore that the conclusion contradicts the premise. Oops.” – Exactly! You just said it yourself, everything has a cause. (Though Hume argued that unless experienced, causality was perceived but not real) So what caused the universe to exist? Evolution? What caused evolution? You could ask that about any subsequent answer and question, what caused it? That is the point. Something had to have started all this.. In my view that is God. You can’t say something was always here, what caused it?

Newton did not coin the term (the laws of thermodynamics), but he did come up with the theory if you read his principia. Many physicists acknowledge this. The same holds with the conservation of matter, though it wasn’t couched as such. As to the contradiction of Einstein and the law of conservation of matter, it did not renounce the law but said that matter and energy could be interchangeable and that a separate law of conservation of matter was not needed and that the law of conservation of energy should be considered the law of conservation of mass-energy. It did not change its conclusion. It is an equivalence formula.

There are some things we cannot comprehend, and we never will. That is the point of God, that he did that which is impossible for us to do, create matter. The creator of nature doesn’t have to follow its laws.
4. That "All About Science" reference appears to have been written for a kindergarten. – Does that make it irrelevant? No.
5. "Newton's First Law" is a phrase normally referring to his laws of motion (Google it, to confirm.) The first of them states "First law: If an object experiences no net force, then its velocity is constant." You appear (though I hope not) to be confusing this with the laws of conservation of matter and of energy.

I am not confusing it, you are separating it, again:
“The First Law basically says that energy or matter can neither be created nor destroyed.” – Again, this is what it says no matter what you think it says about a closed loop energy system. This is what it means.

6. "I believe that God exists." Well, yes, I gathered that. Do you believe Unies exist? Why, or why not?
Unies have no significance, unlike a God. Like I said, a definition of God could be simply, the creator of the universe.
7. "one could simply define God as the creator of the universe." Really? Try this: "X is defined as that which created the universe." What does that tell you, or anyone, about X? -  It tells me if there is a creator, he is God. Yes it’s circular, and as I hope you know circular logic is always true. The premise (if true) contains the conclusion.
If god created the universe, then the universe was created by God. We are arguing about the validity of the premise here.

I suggest you listen to the V-50 lectures by Jay Stuart Snelson, and his colleague Andrew Galambos, a physicist. They square all your answers about how Newton was the author of the laws of thermodynamics, how nothing exists without having been created, and go in depth about the correct way to apply the scientific method, which you seem to think I haven’t heard of.

Thunderbolt's picture

Nice article, Tzo. The erudite Jim Davies has argued, correctly, something similar. Reason must be applied to all areas of life. Public schools and childhood religious indoctrination have, together, created what you describe: mind-control games for power and profit. I am hoping that the internet will break this paradigm, in both areas.

Jim Davies's picture

Thank you, T-bolt.  But Tzo, here,  has done it better.
It's been a slow business, but you're right about the Net - and it's only the latest in a series of innovations that have enabled people to think for themselves, during the past few centuries. Printing, for example.
The more we know, the less we need priests to tell us what we don't yet know; "God" is a god of the gaps in knowledge, and those gaps are becoming fewer and narrower.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Tzo,

To whom then are you harming by introducing your theory. You say live and let live then turn around and make an allegation that yes and no to harm occurring. Forgive me but I had to skim through your piece. Why? Well first as I started reading your material I began to notice a pattern, one that is based straight out of fundamentalism. I believe in God and I have enought brass balls to say that I know God exists. No God did not speak to me from a burining bush. I spent 4 years of my college life studying Biology and through all that time of disecting, looking through a microscope and a telescope and seeing how things were put together convinced me that God is. Now. What's in Gods mind? I haven't the faintest idea. I have seen and read of miricales. Yes there are people ready to explain them away but these events are more than just coincidences. If it occurred only a few times maybe yes but the hundreds and thousands of miricals which have transpired over time points to something beyond human explanation.
Your position from a fundamentalists perspective about religion I believe is absolutely correct, but you seem to dismiss the alternatives that exist in the beliefe of God. Is the Bible real or is it just made up. I see it more as a historical, political, social and cultural history of the Jews. The New Testement is something different which I have not come to any form of agreement on. My jury is still out on it, but it was still written by man, the biggest fallacy.
I was raised in a family that believed in God, but they never practiced any of its parts: no church, no prayers at meals and etc. I have spoken to you of objectivity. In this piece you remained objective to the fundamentalist perspective but the other view-points seem to be absent. Still like what you wrote though, I would just ask for a broader point-of-view.

Please do not mistake this as criticism for arguments sake for it is not. I have merely made an observation.


tzo's picture

A good percentage of people who are religious do not really let their beliefs adversely affect their lives and the lives of others by causing them to undertake unethical actions. However, we all know that a larger percentage at the very least allow 'authorities' (as defined in their Good Books and explained to them by their religious 'authorities') to aggress and it's just fine.
"God has assigned the authorities here on Earth, and it's our duty to obey them." That in itself causes untold misery around the planet, not to mention the periodic crusades that get launched. I imagine you can give me the name of a person who justifies government action because government is an rightful agent of God. Without God, this argument does not exist.

Samarami's picture

OK, Tzo. I agree with your post. And I meant to say earlier that I feel your first response cleared much lack of understanding on my part regarding your essay.

What you're talking about here is "religion" -- different (or apart) from "beliefs". Religions beget religious leaders. They, along with many of their adherents, eventually make overt and/or subtle concordats with gangsters calling themselves "government". I haven't been involved with or attended a religious group (church, synagog, temple et al.) for over 35 years. Not that you shouldn't -- that's none of my business. I do best when I mind my own business.

You and I have beliefs. They may not totally coincide, but they are beliefs and they are valid. We both, for instance, believe that none of us have the "right" to coerce or inflict violence upon others -- or to support organizations that do. For any reason -- "moral", "ethical", "for-the-good-of-'country' ", etc etc. You might call that our "green card" for staying around STR for any time. Few governmentalists would stay here for long, although for the most part none of us STR regulars would demand that they go away and not share their views.

We've had some "trolls" who did us all a good service -- who forced us to stop and think and get off our high horsies (before they were tarred, feathered and sent on their way -- just kidding). We've had newcomers like me who came to STR with hopes of helping come up with a "good" state, swang around after being exposed to you and Jim Davies and a host of good root-strikers, and became ardent anarchists.

All of us are believers of one type or another. Many of us have meditated over just how such systems as photosynthesis, the human cardiovascular, circulatory and nervous systems are sustained and how they came into being. I posted what I think is a thought-provoking video earlier in that vein.

But here at STR I've gathered the sensitivity guard against proselytizing is uniquely high and many cannot differentiate "belief" from "religion", so best keep the "belief" thing sequestered.

That lends to a more shallow, or less fertile discussion, however; but who among us wants his beliefs insulted misinterpreted?


Samarami's picture


    "...the believer is psychologically harming himself..."

Would this be "...the believer..." in evolution? Or "...the believer..." in religion?
All too often in this type writing the writer doesn't differentiate.


I suspect because both are so ridiculously lacking in substance.


GeoffreyTransom's picture

I think you've missed the important point: there has never EVER been a society in which refusing to believe in evolution would result in you being tied to a stake and burned to death. There have been DOZENS of societies in which that was the penalty for refusing to believe in some lunatic primitive gibberings about nomads being selected by the Sky Wizard as the Master Race (after agreeing to ritual mutilation of children, ritual slaughter of animals and blood-sprinkling and offal-burning and other such ludicrous nonsense that no Supreme Being worth his salt would think sensible).

If Evolution (capital 'E', see - I'm sneaky) was nonsense, then you and I would not share FIFTY PERCENT OF OUR GENOME with.... a blackberry bush.

But guess what? We do. We can take a piece of human DNA and match it, base-pair for base-pair, with a chimp, a dog, a slug... and a shitload of plants.

The difference is, for us there's MORE of it - we are the result of millions of years of accumulated deviations from plant (or slug) DNA.

There are only 150 land mammals that grow to over 100lb. ALL of us share more than 80% of our respective genomes.

Science is fascinating - and the one thing is does NOT do is slaughter people who don't believe in it.

On the other hand... read the Old Testament and find out what Yahweh (or Hashem, if you wear a tzitzit and a silly hat) does to people who don't do EXACTLY WHAT HE SAYS. Or read some mediaeval history.

Or - to go 'pre-Christian' on you... think about how SOCRATES was killed because hew was accused of... wait for it...


Samarami's picture


    "...Since the human mind has a natural aversion to "I don’t know," it wants to fill in the holes, and even a bad answer is better than no answer (Of course, no answer is an answer as well, if one can see it and accept it as such.)..."

Agreed. Not only do I resist having to admit to this group "I don't know", but also I'm embarrassed when it comes to a point I must respond with a very unpopular observation -- knowing in advance what this particular group wants to hear.

Because I want to look good. That's the sad state of my affair.

At this juncture I'm in agreement with Glock's response, which is the admission "...I don't know".

    "...As it stands now, more than 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God and at least 9.999 out of 10 Americans believe in government. Coincidence?..."

Religion and government are abstractions -- they don't exist except in your mind. But the adherents of each exist -- in multitudinous forms and factions and "isms" -- and have walked hand-in-glove with each other from time immemorial. Each appears to represent the other in the incitement of violence. All proselytize incessantly.

Those disciples have been at the helm of the most egregious slaughter and human decimation imaginable. Virtually all wars have been fought by slaves of one at the behest of the other.

Be grateful to be here -- whatever type "believer" you are.


Glock27's picture

Cheers Sam.

Thank you for your agreement. There are so many things we don't know, yet there exist the know-it-all-group hell bent on destroying any integrity a private individual has. (I notice that on this site. Somethimes I think they are merely internet trolls).

I know that I am not the only person here whose mother or grandmother, father or grandfather or someone has instructed us that "if you can't say something nice about a person then say nothing at all." The only thing I do here is advance observations--not arguments. I have nothing to prove. It is great to see you back here.

May the Source Bless and Keep you save, keep you well and watch your six.


Samarami's picture

What I've observed at STR (by many -- certainly not all) is a general shallowness in understanding or perhaps admitting the dichotomy between "belief" and "religion".

I'll use as an example perhaps the most libertarian organization I know of: Alcoholics Anonymous. The early history of that group revealed that almost to a man (and, "to a woman" -- as the Big Book controversially is still written as if only men suffered) we were sullied by religion. So much so that we wouldn't -- couldn't -- accept a program of recovery that included even the remotest suggestion that it might be wise to acknowledge the Presence of a Power that was higher than ourselves if we wanted to find a way out of that incessant mental obsession to drink.

We could see that our heart just kept pounding out life-giving blood, and that medical "science" (I could write a book about "science") could repair and treat the results of our debauchery, but could not explain why the blamed thing just keeps on a-beating. We knew we should have been dead after the last night's drunkenness -- but here we were, alive, but with a g-d awful headache.

We could acknowledge the marvelous design and order in, for instance, childbirth. But we refused to accept the idea that the same Order or Power might could be enlisted to help us overcome the obsession for alcohol.

None of that superstitious religious stuff for us.

So we had to come to our senses -- overcome shallowness -- accept sponsorship . At least 'till we got the heebie-jeebies ("DT's") under control. Later we recognized the need to develop a manner of living which demanded rigorous honesty if we were to successfully steer clear of the next drink.

(AA sponsors learn to have compassion for the confusion between "belief" and "religion". "Anarchists" and "libertarians" usually have to grow that level of compassion -- it does not erupt out of dire necessity as it does with the addict).

And that, my friends, I believe is what "libertarianism" is all about. A manner of living that demands rigorous honesty. Seeing things the way they are and behaving appropriately. We eschew government and religion, perhaps; but we also accept that everybody believes something -- even if it's happenstance.

Once we graduate to anarchy we recognize that political solutions are always worse than no solution whatsoever. And compassion for others' beliefs (we all have beliefs) is a necessary tool.


mhstahl's picture


I think you may have just made a point that I've been failing to make for about a week, thanks.

To me morality and philosophical "truths" are fully subjective personal beliefs-mine are based on decades of introspection and study, an experience of discovery that I value deeply and that has enhanced my life. I'm fully aware by beliefs are not going to be shared by everyone, and I don't expect them to be-or want them to be, frankly.

"Libertarianism", though seems shot through with the notion that morality and philosophy are immutable absolute objective realities-as irrefutable as the dog curled at my feet, and as such any deviation is an error rather than simply a different perspective. And, that if everyone starts thinking "right" then a "free society" will emerge from the muck where everyone respects whichever sect of objective (small "o") morality is being proffered and we can all rejoice.  I understand why this sort of outlook is compelling, but it is also remarkably frustrating and a bit insulting when you get right down to it.

I don't care if someone wants to believe in "natural law" or Objectivism, or anarcho-capitalism, or Marxism, or any other "ism"-just don't pretend I'm bound by that belief system. I adhere to nonaggression not just because I find it morally satisfying, but because other human beings are remarkably dangerous, particularly when attacked.



tzo's picture

Numbers and math are completely subjective taken outside of any context (I guaratee you no one has a '3' curled up at their feet). They are downright useless if you try and use them as tools to write a book. And yet…

If you want to solve equations and obtain results that align with the observed real world, then numbers and math are just the ticket. Suddenly they are objective tools that can be used to solve particular types of problems.

If you want to solve the problem of creating a society with equal human rights utilizing the NAP, then ethics, the tools developed exactly for this purpose, are the objective set of rules to be followed.

If you want a society run by the strongest, then ethics is a stupid, worthless collection of subjective garbage. So is math if you think it is the proper toolset for helping you write a book.

According to your last paragraph, you only respect others because you fear retaliation. Well, guess what? There are many who INITIATE force because they DON'T fear retaliation. So if you don't want anything to do with objective ethics—IOW, if you aren't interested in the toolset necessary to build a just society—then you will have to be satisfied with what we currently have—Might Makes Right. Those guys just love your argument.

mhstahl's picture


What part of, "I adhere to nonaggression not just because I find it morally satisfying, but because other human beings are remarkably dangerous, particularly when attacked." lead you to believe that I only respect others because I fear retaliation? What I wrote-in plain English-was the opposite.

When, exactly, did it become your problem, or mine, to solve society? I'll tell you I have no such desire.

I'd very much like to see the aberration of modern government dissolve, but that is exactly because enforces a warped system of universal-one size fits all-morality upon everyone through violence-usually to the benefit of a few.

I think that, based upon anthropological studies and the historical record, societies form distinct and wildly varying social mores to fit the unique needs of the area. A common thread through all of these stateless societies that I am aware of-from modern Africa to 500 A.D. Kent- is limited balance of power that anthropologists call "Peace in the Feud". People are nonaggressive generally because the threat of retaliation is very serious...efforts at restitution are usually made to avoid feud and retaliation-no matter guilt, other than that, social rules are generally very few.

Case in point, in rural Somalia and Ethiopia rules about property vary depending upon if the group is herders or farms. In Anglo-saxon societies(including Celtic with variations) prior to Christianity property was recognized, but theft was almost a hobby, that literally was only immoral if you got caught-one was expected to secure one's property, failure to do so left it fair game...that is until the king's started to build a state, then they made theft illegal(which allowed a select few to garner wealth while passing the duty of protection on to others.)

I suspect those free societies-societies with no or only the barest of governments- are not "just" to you, and they certainly do not have "equal human rights"...or "rights" at all-so they would need "solvin'", yes? Even though they abide by the nonaggression axiom by default, and are(or were) stable and remarkably peaceful?

I have read of several "objective" moralities here-from "Natural law" to "Objectivism"-and I've yet to find one that does not itself invite violation of nonaggression-either by permitting retaliation for a non-violent act-like an IP violation in the case of "Objectivism" (and "Natural Law" according to Frank van Dun) or retaliation for non-confrontational violations of arbitrary land boundaries(and set rules of property)-which is every last one of them that I've ever heard of on the right.

I submit that all of these "tools" present "human rights" that are only practicably attained by the maintenance of a central government with overwhelming force-a absolute violation of the nonaggression axiom that you don't think I properly....worship. Don't take my word for it:

"But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government."


"The use of physical force—even its retaliatory use—cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens. "

Ayn Rand.

So go ahead, Tzo, please explain how I, and Ayn Rand are wrong about objective morality and its relationship to government and aggression.



tzo's picture

Luckily for me, someone already did the work in explaining Ms. Rand's inconsistencies in her otherwise well-thought out theory of Objectivism.

This was send to Ms. Rand over 40 years ago, and she never responded:

When theories are very good but have some flaws, the logical thing to do is keep the good parts and improve the weaknesses. I am not forced to swallow every part of Rand's objectivism right on down to the inconsistencies, and you aren't either (if that isn't being too coercive on my part, to attempt to persuade you to take a rational approach).

If you posit "just" societies that follow the NAP but have unequal human rights, then we would probably have to have a long discussion about terms, or you could read some of my previous pertinent essays, because I believe you have made a contradictory statement.

When you say "I adhere to nonaggression not just because I find it morally satisfying, but because other human beings are remarkably dangerous, particularly when attacked."

... I hear "I adhere to the NAP because it makes me feel good." and "I adhere to the NAP because I fear retaliation."

which don't seem sufficient in themselves to justify the NAP in that they are pure personal preference. Other people's personal preferences can be "I ignore the NAP because it makes me feel good." and "I ignore the NAP because I don't fear retaliation." Just as valid.

In your previous post you even stated "To me morality and philosophical "truths" are fully subjective personal beliefs…" So you purposefully keep logic out of any arguments concerning morality and philosophy. OK...

If you really believe that, then you are completely wasting your time, not to mention contradicting yourself, attempting to persuade anyone of anything. Yet it seems you are here to persuade me to stop any attempt at persuading people. You want to use objectivity at times to make your points and at the same time claim everything is subjective and is nothing more than personal preference. So there is nothing to resolve, discuss, or argue about. Cool.

GeoffreyTransom's picture

tzo, you continue to entertain. The only thing more entertaining than trolling religiotards, is participating in a 4chan Omegle troll. ("How do magnets work?").

I am certain that you found it hilarious to see the 'Faithful' (i.e., those indoctrinated as children - mention no names [Glock27 much?]) engage in Pavlovian knee-jerk "Let me have my God" nuttery.

Here's the thing. We live in a universe that's really REALLY big. To put it into formal 'physicist' speak - there's shitloads of it. Fuckloads, in fact (a fuckload is more than a shitload - in fact a fuckload is like a shitload shitloads). And it's been around for at least a shitload of years.

We naked apes are getting pretty smart, what with Wikipedia and Google and what-not.

Within a generation we will have advanced to the point where we can rid ourselves of these ape-like low-quality meatbags (mine's particularly ape-like: shaped like a gorilla, and just as hairy and smelly and typo-prone). We will interface directly to the sum of all knowledge - thus enabling everyone (even Americans) to know all known things, instantly.

And here's where it gets weirder: we are in a 'young' bit of the universe.

Somewhere out there - with probability 1 - there is a civilisaiton that has ALREADY gone past the Kurzweil "knee". That civilisation will ALREADY have transcended meatbags. {Ignore for the minute that it will be totally disinterested in us - compared to them we are like a mouldy sandwich in the back of the fridge}.

What I am sneaking up on, is the thing that drives religious belief: that somewhere out there, there is something that is shitloads (or perhaps fuckloads, or even fuckloads-squared) more powerful than us naked apes.

I don't think that's controversial, in a universe as big, and as old, as ours.

So there may well exist some entity somewhere who - techologically speaking - is "shitsnacks-squared" more advanced than me. (That's not a technical term - it just means "a real lot").

But here's the thing: just because some douchebag is technologically more advanced than me, does it mean I should worship him (or her, or it)? FUCK NO.

If some technologically-over-endowed dickhead lands on Earth and tells me that he will make me The Master Race if I genitally mutilate my male offspring, the correct (libertarian) response is to tell him to fuck off. The fact that Avram didn't is prima facie evidence that he was a dill (that he was screwing his half-sister is even stronger evidence).

Otherwise, you're just picking some arbitrary level of power to worship - some serfs think that the amount of power wielded by a US President is enough; some thing the amount wielded by a UK Prime Mininter or French President will suffice. Or the local head Witch Doctor - whatever. If you worship power for it's own sake, you're a serf.

But for right-thinking libertarians, there is NO amount of power that engages the "genuflection reflex" of the born serf.

And nobody who has read the Bible can POSSIBLY think that the genocidal racist capricious douchebag who features prominently in the Mosaic literature (Yahweh, the Storm God) thinks that he should be worshipped for ANY OTHER REASON than his ability to rain stinging serpents down on you unless you submit.

Plus, he likes foreskins and sprinkled blood and burnt offal... he's fucking unhinged.

TL;DR: the universe may well contain entities that can kick our ass. That's the worst possible reason to worship them.

nost8r's picture

I always love a good foreskin discussion. As to hacking them off and many other OT rituals, there are social, medical, and scientific reasons for them. Whether God told someone to enact those practices, or ancient societies developed them on their own and then wrapped religion around them, my point is that there IS a rational reason for them.

Evan's picture

The word "religion" seems to have come from the latin 're' (to do again) + 'ligere' (to connect/bind) and so in it's broadest sense, the word "religion" may be properly used to mean simply "re-connection." Which begs the question, to whom or what is the religious individual reconnecting?

While many questions pertaining to "god" and "the universe" seem to have less than certain answers, I can personally think of many ideas, social customs, and other natural phenomena with which I hope to "re-connect."

Of course, the word "religion" tends to carry lots of heavy connotative baggage along with it whenever it settles in the minds of most people, and so seems to be another one of those words, like "capitalism," or "socialism," that unless used carefully, tends to engender confusion, rather than communication.

nost8r's picture

I believe in God, but I'm not interested in attacking the debate over the existence of a deity. I'd rather focus on tzo's attempt to create a causal relationship between religion and government. I don't think that is correct. I see man-made religious structures and authoritarian governments both as symptoms of humanity's base need to be controlled. So, organized religion doesn't cause statism, any more than statism causes organized religion. They both feed off the same unenlightened tree that we need to keep hacking on at the root.

Secondly, the question about harming children is a classic libertarian argument surrounding children's rights and the age of consent. From tzo's perspective a religious parent is harming their child. A theist could make the argument about atheists. A home school parent may harm their child by not teaching enough math. Parents harm their kids by feeding them fast food. The fact is that children are dependent on their parents. Children's rights are a difficult subject. I don't think tzo was suggesting any action, but in my opinion, unless there is direct harm to the child, society should leave families alone.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Nost8r,

I like your thoughts, at least they are respectful. I find it difficult to comprehend people whom simply refuse to understand how to be respectful. Someone here mentioned the need of love. I myself find love a trite and over used word. Respect must come first I think. If you have no respect for a person, regardless of their position, you can never understand one another. Respect and honor above all else (maybe).

tzo's picture

Perhaps belief in God is parallel to minarchism. It apparently solves a problem while at the same time introducing a conflict (religion: fantasy vs reality; minarchism: coercion vs voluntary). As long as these 'solutions' remain as they are, perhaps one can say that no real harm is being done. People believe in something for which there is no proof? People are forced to give up 1% in order to have defense? Life's not perfect so deal with it.
But minarchism leads to bigger government leads to tyranny because human beings are involved. Belief in God leads to religion leads to a external-authority-acceptance mindset which leads to government because human beings are involved.
The Dalai Lama probably never invaded another country and generally believes in peace, love, and understanding but he was still the head of a State who lived in a palace that was funded by taxation.
Religion controls people without having to use guns and is more powerful than government control. Government has stepped in and integrated religion into its mythos as an aid to get people to willingly submit. It is very difficult to get an independent adult to submit to a religion if he hasn't had one (any one will do) programmed into his head *as a fact* from the time he was small.
Notice the questions generally asked are "Which religion has it right?" and "Which type of government is the best?" which tends to exclude thoughts like "Maybe all types of religion and government are ridiculous." Teach kids from the get-go that both government and God are necessary, inevitable, and facts of life the same as the tree in the back yard, and you will have created a believer that will perhaps have a very difficult time identifying which 'facts' are really false assertions.
No, this is not child abuse any more than is teaching your kids that black people are not human beings but in fact animals that can be used to perform work for you. Irrational assertions will have consequences. I advocate persuasion and peer pressure, as I wrote. People get very touchy with government, religion, and family, and that is probably because they don't want to get too close to examining their cherished ilogical memes.
If you jump at anyone who suggests that perhaps some child-rearing strategies are questionable, that the person should mind his own business, etc., then that is an emotional reaction akin to those associated with religion and government. Rational examination gets cut off by emotional response: I have a right to government! I have a right to my religious beliefs! I have a right to raise my children as I see fit! End of discussion!
Of course you do. But when you cannot discuss relative pros and cons of those issues in any rational manner, then you might have to suspect there is a problem in there somewhere on your end. That's not a criticism, just an observation of a possibility. If that offends you, then I may just have to rest my case.
Perhaps religion does not lead to government, but it gets incorporated into government and is used to justify its force. Perhaps it is more accurate to surmise that religion leads to the justification and acceptance of government. Find me one out of a thousand Christian churches where the preacher denounces his government's aggression. How about one that doesn't emphatically support it?
This essay is not an attack on any individual, because every individual incorporates rational and irrational ideas together to some extent. The essay addresses the consequences of putting irrational ideas into a large group of people and having them accepted and then having to live with the consequences. And the most objectionable part, IMO, is that those ideas are put there by deceiving children who have not developed a rational faculty as a defense. They honestly don't know what actually is possible and what is real, and to present fantasies as facts is (in fact!) a harmful practice.
No, I don't want any force to be used against parents to impose my beliefs on their children, blah, blah, strawman. These counters are like all the government-supporter arguments in that it deflects the conversation from its focus. And the focus is simply this: Why would you teach a child that something is a fact when there is not a scrap of empirical proof to support it? What is the benefit?
There is none. It is simply an intergenerational transfer that is done automatically because the parent does not want to critically examine his own beliefs because that's what his parents did. Cripes, eventually it should be recognized that it just may be a good idea to stop and think first before regurgitating fantasy as fact to a defenseless human being.
No one wants to talk about kids, but that is where all the (*&^&* is injected that continues the cycles of irrationality. Government, religion, and family is the trifecta of irrationality that can cripple the rational faculty of people for a lifetime. To a large extent, the latter supports the former two. If no one is allowed to discuss this sacred institution of family, then government and religion aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
If all this bothers you overmuch, be sure to avoid my next essay. :>

tzo's picture

Tell a kid he is worthless from the moment he can understand the concept until he leaves the family. Is that abuse? Should one intervene forcibly? No.

Is the kid damaged for life? Probably.

Might it be a good idea to suggest that such irrational indoctrination not be inflicted on defenseless and susceptible children? Might it be a good idea to attempt to persuade people not to behave in this manner?

And might it help to understand that such people are probably not malicious but are merely passing on what was inflicted upon them when they were young because that is what is 'normal' for them? That's what I learned and I turned out OK. Can you empathize with a person whose rational faculty cannot penetrate such a seemingly simple contradiction—that certain people are intrinsically 'worthless' in comparison to others?

Damaged people are expert at making excuses for irrational behaviors and beliefs. Abuser and abused spouses swim in them. Should someone intervene in family violence if the one being abused insists that he/she deserved it and wants everyone to 'just go one and mind their own business'?

Tricky questions, but I see no good argument against attempting to persuade people to think before they act and consider the consequences that may arise from holding on to illogical premises.

I don't believe human beings have any innate need to be controlled, I believe it is beaten into them, sometimes quite literally. Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't it worth considering? The less that families behave like religious and governmental domination organizations toward their children—demanding unthinking compliance and rule-obeying and acceptance of the status quo and mandates, whether logical or illogical—the less likely children will be subject to identical control systems like government.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Tzo,

STOP--STOP--STOP--STOP!! I know what you are doing? Sometimes I think this site is a game everyone is playing. I guess for me religion has no role to play in all of this--I don't know how it got started but religion at this point is irrelevant. I believe but do you have a right to abuse me because I believe. Nope. Don't think so. But at least you have presented your point respectfully with decency and thought (although empassioned). You are a good person Tzo whatever you believe is fine with me, isn't that what this is all about, having the natural right to believe, dream, do, perform in the best way each individual sees fit. That's why I cannot understand why God or religion has anything to do with this. Yes I understand your position on how religion infiltrated the political and the political invaded the religious. This is one of the nightmares of the human condition. I am coming to the position the I am not even sure the ideas presented here have any real validity.
Some here wait for the word religion or God to appear so they can jump in with a pleathora of foul, disrespectful, pasty words to hurl at anyone who believes. If the ideologies presented on this site have any value then the abusive assault on others here has no place in the discussion. Like you said--it is the ideas that are important. I understand you and I respect you and your presentations. I may make observations but they are never intended to be critical. You see, I was and am a damaged child. I have no interest in treating other people the way I have been treated.
Stay safe, stay well, and watch your six.


tzo's picture

Yes, I do have the right to teach my child from birth that she is worthless and will never amount to anything. I can teach her that there is an angry, vengeful God watching her every move, judging everything. I can train her to obey my every word without question or be sent to her room without dinner. As long as I keep the miserable creature alive, unbruised, and relatively healthy, no one should have any right to take any action against me.
The more people behave like this, the more miserable the human condition. The less, the better. That is all. Within the realm of lawful behavior, there is plenty that is bad and irrational and I see nothing wrong in persuading people not to behave badly and/or irrationally—even if legally—in order to improve how people interact with one another.
I also happen to believe this is one of the keys to eliminating the government mindset, but I certainly could be wrong.

Thunderbolt's picture

"I don't believe human beings have any innate need to be controlled, I believe it is beaten into them, sometimes quite literally."
I am reminded of being beaten by a teacher in public school for talking in class. I could not sit for over a week.
Another teacher tied me to a chair for not sitting correctly at the desk assigned to me.
Public school IS child abuse. One of the best ways to destroy all governments is to de-fund them by switching to an encrypted, digital currency that cannot be controlled or inflated: bitcoin.
It would eliminate taxes at the city, state and federal levels. It would end the incessant wars. It would force the bureaucrats and politicians and cops to find honest work. It would disrupt the prison systems and the M.I.C. It would eliminate the airport groping, the C.I.A., DHS, and my all-time favorite, the I.R.S. The Online Freedom Academy could do the rest.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Thunderbolt,

Nice idea but the problem with ideas are they just don't offer real solutions. I understand your feeling and I also feel the same way.

Jim Davies's picture

Come now, Glock, that's not fair. I confess I don't understand Bitcoin properly either, but Thunderbolt's comment is chock full of "real solutions." Let's grasp fully what he means before dismissing what he says. Ideas are vastly more powerful than bullets or prisons.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Jim,

There you go again. I haven't the slightes idea about what you are refering to. I completely understand what Thunderbolt was saying. I may have made an observation that didn't settle with you, I only wish I knew what it was. This is the second time you have done this to me. Come on now, Jim, give me a break and help me out here so I may have the opportunity to defend whatever it is I said.

Jim Davies's picture

No offense intended, Glock27. The sequence here is plain to see: T-bolt advanced an interesting idea, that Bitcoin could be a key: "one of the best ways to destroy all governments is to de-fund them by switching to an encrypted, digital currency that cannot be controlled or inflated" - and if he's right, that would be a m-a-j-o-r advance for liberty. You do see that, don't you? He went on "It would eliminate taxes at the city, state and federal levels. It would end the incessant wars. It would force the bureaucrats and politicians and cops to find honest work. It would disrupt the prison systems and the M.I.C. It would eliminate the airport groping, the C.I.A., DHS, and my all-time favorite, the I.R.S."

Now, those are huge claims and I'm not certain he's quite right (because I don't properly understand Bitcoin) but if he is, his comment is (as I said) chock-full of practical ideas. Yet your reply was "Nice idea but the problem with ideas are they just don't offer real solutions."

That was not, IMHO, a sensible thing to post - hence my "come on." It makes you look as if you had rushed to judgment without pausing to wrap your mind around what he had said. I really tried to be polite, not to make you look ridiculous but just mildly to suggest that you weren't being fair.

An appropriate reply might have been along the lines "Thunderbolt, I don't follow. Could you spell out how that alternative currency might get widely adopted?" Much more courteous than simply dismissing them.

Have I clarified it now?

Tony Pivetta's picture

Codswallop. No, codwallop on stilts.
So what if religious youngsters imbibe religion from their parents? Don't irreligious youngsters imbibe irreligion from their parents? Don't the youngster grow up and make up their own minds on such matters? 
An affinity between Attila and the Witch Doctor, as the atheist-fanatic Rand so elegantly couched it? Certainly not in the Christian tradition. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." You mean there's a difference, Lord? Yes, and that meme played a huge role in desacralizing the State in the West. 
Ever read about St. Ambrose's barring the Emperor Theodocius' entry into the Cathedral of Milan? Ambrose demanded the Emperor first do penance for the wholesale slaughter he'd perpetrated on the restive Corinthian masses. How about the recurring clashes between King Henry II and Thomas a' Beckett? They culminated in the good Archbishop's beheading in Canterbury. Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV ransacked the Vatican and exiled Pope Gregory VII. Napoleon kidnapped and held Pope Pius VII captive.
So much for that cloying love-fest between faith and State. How about the atheists' devotion to rationality? Does this not render them less prone to the violence and fanaticism besetting us more obscurantist sorts? 
Well, there's that little matter of enlightened French Revolutionaries rampaging through the Vende'e countryside and forcing the benighted Catholic masses to be secular and therefore free. Or the bloodiest dictatorship in history, which so happened to be an officially atheistic state, shuttering all the churches and mercilessly persecuting its Christians.
Yes, the persecutions were *irreligiously* motivated. A letter Lenin sent to members of the Politburo on March 19, 1922, shows he wanted to use hunger as a method to break the bond between religion and the masses, to numb their reactions and thus facilitate his planned assault against religious institutions:
"In fact the present moment favors us far more than it does them. We are almost 99 percent sure that we can strike a mortal blow against them [our enemies] and consolidate the central position that we are going to need to occupy for several decades to come. With the help of all those starving people who are starting to eat each other, who are dying by the millions, and whose bodies litter the roadside all over the country, it is now and only now that we can--and therefore must--confiscate all church property with all the ruthless energy we can still muster. All evidence suggests that we could not do this at any other moment, because our only hope is the despair engendered in the masses by the famine, which will cause them to look at us in a favorable light or, at the very least, with indifference."
The agnostic Fred Reed asks why cultural elites are so "grindingly antagonistic" to religion. "Is it partly that believers in America tend to be Southern or Catholic, both of which are regarded as politically inappropriate conditions?" His guess is as good as mine. Either way, I see no reason for Christian anarchists to cede the high moral or intellectual ground to their secular counterparts. Sorry. 


tzo's picture

So what if religious youngsters imbibe religion from their parents? … Don't the youngsters grow up and make up their own minds on such matters?

So what if citizen-youngsters imbibe government from their parents? Don't the youngsters grow up and make up their own minds on such matters?

I contend that their minds have already been made up for them and it is a mighty struggle for many people to unlearn the superstitions (fantasies presented as facts) they were taught as children. I see a direct parallel between religion and government and the mindset necessary to accept such superstitions, but I could be wrong.

And again, nothing here is an attack against any individual. Many, many people can decide that there is a God and can also understand how not to aggress against other people or not to support those (mostly governments) who do.

I think the only moral question that arises in all this is "Why would anyone think it a good idea to teach children that God is a solid fact, when that clearly is not the case? What purpose does it serve?" I am not one to declare that any force should be used to prevent people from doing so, but I'm asking the question: "Why do it?" It may indeed be ultimately harmless in many cases, but counterexamples aside, and I don't doubt there are many, it is quite obvious that many more people support aggression through their religious mindset that is based on superstition and relies on the word of external authorities.

Is there a better answer to "Why do it?" than "Because that's how I was raised."?

nost8r's picture

I agree with most of what tzo says, and I believe in God. I don't believe in a vengeful, angry God who watches our every move. I have tried my best to teach my children to think critically for themselves, and my oldest often asks questions that I can't answer. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. I think Tzo paints with too broad a brush since the focus is on fundamentalism. There is a growing segment of post-modern, liberal theology that doesn't fit into the old paradigm. Still there are some great points in this article and the ensuing discussion.

What to do? Tzo is correct in saying that the vast majority of churches teach subservience to authority. We should question that and not allow it in our own homes and families. My point is that this isn't exclusive to churches and it isn't unanimous. Secular humanists are often statist, for example. However, there is a remnant, of both theists and atheists, who understand the need for a voluntary society. We need to educate the fundamentalists of every stripe and creed. I often use Biblical moral arguments to point out the immorality of taxation to my Christian friends. I use objectivism, natural rights, NAP, whatever works, for my atheist friends. There is definitely work to be done, and because there are so few of us, I don't let a little thing like religion get in the way of working together.

tzo's picture

nost8r: "... subservience to authority ... isn't exclusive to churches and it isn't unanimous."
I agree. Perhaps the point I am getting to is that government is not the root of coercive society, but a branch. The root is actually external authority, and this can manifest itself in the government branch, the religion branch, and the family branch.
But I would also point out that government is the only branch that necessarily is grounded in aggression, and is 100% of the time unethical. Religion and family are obviously not necessarily dependent upon aggression but *can* become grounded in *illogical* external authority based on outright deception, which again, does *not* violate the NAP but is still a contributor to the acceptance of the ultimate illegitimate external authority, government.
And as far as deception goes, I am all for caveat emptor. But when we are considering deceptions that are perpetrated against people who cannot yet reason out the contradictions, then in my mind the game changes a bit.
It's difficult to phrase everything correctly, and some thoughts are works in progress, but thread discussions like these can help focus the attempt. So thanks for all the feedback, everyone.

Paul's picture

Nah, tso, I'm not buying it.

First a disclaimer: I don't believe in any god.

However, I will admit I believe and have in the past believed things that are wrong. Now your probable response will be that my wrong beliefs are amenable to correction by reason. And I will say, yeah, but... There are a lot of wrong beliefs out there, not all of them by any means associated with official religions. Many are not amenable to correction by reason (which in at least some sense itself resembles a religion). I may even have a few like that. Heaven knows, it took decades to get rid of some of them.

People treat science as a religion. That's why there is a "global warming" movement. It has a (sort of) stamp of scientific truth. Doubters are treated as heretics. If even scientists can't get this right, what can you reasonably expect from non-scientists?

Now, there is no argument that the parasite class has used religion as a tool (probably in a way Jesus would have deplored). But the parasite class uses EVERYTHING it can as a tool for control. It turned simple communal living into communism. It turned "rights" into obligations for people to support state health care. It even has tried to usurp the word "freedom" to its ends (e.g. "freedom from wants").

Last problem: you've just written off a sizable population of anarchists and potential anarchists, because they believe in a god. Bad move. We need to support each other, not indulge in internecine battles.

Bottom line, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. Everybody has wrong beliefs. Often those beliefs are not really amenable to correction. It doesn't matter. Wrong beliefs don't matter! All that matters is whether a given individual wants to use force on us. (Your argument, by the way, also stinks of collectivism...)

Paul's picture

BTW, when I say "wrong beliefs don't matter", what I mean is that the wrong belief of "A" does not matter to "B". It may well matter to "A"; for example, his belief he can fly by jumping off a building. The only thing between "A" and "B" that matters and that we should be working against is the use of force.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Paul,

I am one of the believers and what I notice or observe when the idea of God, religion,toaism or whatever arrises out of the dust, it seems as if anti-Goders come out of the woodwork like termites and take off like a jet aircraft from an aircraftcarrier lasering in their propositions of off fundalmentalism. Fundamentalist ideas are always used as the principle spring board to launch attacks, disparagment and a sundry of other disrespectful comments against anyone who expresses a faity. Many take the Bible and use it as a battering ram to point out all the blood thristy acts God has had committed and committed itself against human kind. I believe in the force, the power the whatever. I do not believe all the blood lust attributed to God is true. To me the bible is a Jewish history, culture, laws, social custom, values, stories and lessons and etc. The bible was for the Jews and usurped by Christianity for their own purposes. My perspective on evolution is that it was a tool the creator used in the development of everything. Interesting though, the bible clearly states that man was given free will. If there is anything true about the bible it would have to be that statement
It is man, the most fallable creature, that created the bible out of a need for control. These few people created an idea that the people could readily imagine as being true. They didn't apply logical analysis to it. If they had we probably would not be where we are today.
Does God make people rich, does it make people well by curing incurable diseases. Well, there have been more than a few instances where this has been shown to be trued, that is people being healed. Now did God do it? I have absolutely no idea, but too many miraculous events have occurred that goes beyond coincidence so I have mildly concluded that it had a hand in the situation. How does God choose who's healed and who's not? Got no idea and I am not sure that it really makes any difference.
I don't understand why God has to be drug into these conversations. When it occurs it brings out the blood lust of anti-believers who come down with a vengence against anyone who believes and they go at it with some of the filthiest terms they can imagine.
Well. I guess that's where I stand and you certainly have a right to stand where every you so desire. I can accept your position as long as we remain respectful. and as long as we sustain the Natural Laws, Natural Rights and etc. with no foul play engaged in it all should be able to get along.


Paul's picture

"I don't understand why God has to be drug into these conversations."

I agree 100%. I get the feeling you misread my post a bit. I'm agreeing with you a lot more than I am with tso, even though I am a non-believer. As far as I'm concerned, a person's faith is not my business. I judge him not at all on whether he believes something I don't. I even grant he may be right and I may be wrong in some things. The only thing I judge people on, is whether they aggress against me. If they don't we can live peacefully no matter how different our views are.

tzo's picture

Hi Paul,

I guess my perspective is shifting a bit, and I may not consider government to be the real root, but rather the belief in external authority that supports it. This delusion also applies to religion, and I'm pretty sure there are numerous examples in history (Crusades) of people banding together and slaughtering each other for religious purposes that were apart from any government intentions.

If a minarchist attacks the central banking system, we point out that is merely a symptom of Statism, which is the root, and treating symptoms doesn't cure. Eliminating the source does. If government is a symptom of delusion belief in external authority, then that delusion is the source and snuffing it out may be a better idea than attacking one of its symptoms.

And I really don't think I am writing anyone off by suggesting that certain behaviors could perhaps be analyzed a bit deeper in order to produce a better result. Yeah, some people will be offended at the mere mention that religion may warrant some critical thinking. Those are pretty much the same people who are going to be offended at the mere mention that government may warrant some critical thinking. Their shared belief in legitimate external authority blocks critical thought, and if this roadblock can be (noncoercively) persuaded to move, then everything becomes much easier.

FWIW, I attack no one or feel I should exclude them for believing in God. I also don't get the collectivism criticism (and right after using 'we' in the previous paragraph!), if you could explain.

Paul's picture

"If a minarchist attacks the central banking system, we point out that is merely a symptom of Statism, which is the root, and treating symptoms doesn't cure."

If your line of thought here were correct, there would be no faithful among the anarchists. It would be impossible to simultaneously believe in a god and be an anarchist.

I can assure you I know some real live anarchists who do believe in a god. The reason is, that anarchism has nothing whatever to do with relations between humans and gods or humans and most other beliefs. Anarchism has to do only with relations between one human and another; specifically, whether coercion is present in that interaction. If people believe force is a legimate part of human interactions, they are not anarchists. If they don't, they are. God is not part of this distinction. "Irrational" (as judged by you) beliefs are not either.

A man's religion is simply not our business. This is one of the statist vestiges still in some of us, that we believe things that don't concern us are our business. It's just not. You are not getting to the source at all; instead, you are letting side issues cloud your judgement.

As to collectivism, you are talking of classes of people, as if everyone who believes in a god shares certain characteristics. Yes, believers do share some, but the things they share are no more relevant to us than the recognition that, for example, all humans communicate. Collectivists not only assign characteristics to groups, but rail against those characteristics as a way of attacking those groups.

"Yeah, some people will be offended at the mere mention that religion may warrant some critical thinking. Those are pretty much the same people who are going to be offended at the mere mention that government may warrant some critical thinking."

The difference is that the faithful anarchists and faithful potential anarchists are our natural allies, while people deeply submerged in the government religion can never be - without a great shock to wake them up, at any rate. The only thing we can do with the latter is shun them; refrain from living around them. We don't have such numbers that we can afford to drive off our natural allies due to disagreements over irrelevancies.

Jim Davies's picture

Tzo, you began your article with "Religion is always a fun topic to address, since no one ever really gets fired up about it . . . ."
So far there have been 37 posts about it and counting, so I think that line deserves a place in some kind of Hall of Fame

tzo's picture

Jim, the next one's gonna be worse, I'm afraid. :>